Drew Tries Stuff: Weird Coffee Flavors
Unlike most authors/former cubical jockeys, I actually don’t like coffee by default. Drinking it at all took me a while to warm up to, it happened more out of necessity than desire. Sodas cost a few bucks from a machine, whereas all but the shittiest of offices puts out free coffee. Eventually, I found that through the magic of flavored creamer and artificial sugar, I could make the bitter drink palatable to my hummingbird tongue.
Over time, I did develop some appreciation for it, although I still use more cream and sugar than most others I know. But I’ve grown to like coffee enough that when ads for a brand with unique, interesting flavors started popping up, I was intrigued. Bones Coffee offers a shitload of different flavored coffees, too many to encompass in one order let alone one blog. As always, this isn’t branded or paid content, I just saw something fun and gave it a shot. Luckily, Bones offers sampler packs where you can try up to 5 different options. I took a swing with the flavors that jumped out most at me, and it turned out to be quite the ride. Since we have so many, I decided I’ll do these from worst to best.
#5 Electric Unicorn
In the middle of this list, there’s some give and take. The good ones and great ones were all within biting distance of one another, but this one was locked into the back of the pack from the first sip. It’s not bad, per se. It delivers on what it promises, which is coffee flavored like a fruity cereal from your youth. I felt it had a Fruity Pebbles flavor/scent, whereas some friends I had taste it too felt it was closer to Trix. Either way, it is certainly not a flavor that goes well with coffee.
This one I consider the “Instagram special” of the lot. It isn’t meant to taste good, it’s meant to draw your attention by looking interesting. Which, in fairness to them, worked. Electric Unicorn was the thing that made me click, so even if it was my least favorite of the bunch, it still did its job marvelously well.
Suggested Pairing: None. There was no saving this one, after everyone took a few sips to get the flavor, we set our mugs aside. Sometimes, you gotta know when to fold ‘em.
#4 White Russian
Unlike Electric Unicorn, most of the flavors are obvious from their names. This was coffee made to taste like a White Russian cocktail. And yeah… it does. It has a nice, smooth flavor that blends in well. I should note here (because it made no difference on #5) that the tasting methodology used for these was to try each cup black, then with our respective sugars added, then with a boozy pairing if we so chose. White Russian did well on all three of those criteria, so why is it #4 on the list?
Because this was the most subtle flavor of the good ones. It truly was enjoyable, however even when we were all drinking the black version, you had to hunt for that flavor. To be fair, it’s hard to make a drink that’s basically cream and coffee flavoring taste substantially different from regular coffee without losing the soul of the drink. It was solid, just not different enough from normal coffee to stand out.
Suggested Pairing: Kahlua if you’re going light, vodka if you’re going heavy. I know that’s boring, but the key to a White Russian is simplicity. Unless you want to invent something new, there’s a lot to be said for playing to the drink’s strengths and reinforcing flavors.
#3 Smorey Time
Damn, I loved this one. If not for the pairing aspect, this bad boy might very well be the top dog in my eyes. However, part of the reason I had friends in on this was to get a better sample size, and at the end of the day this one didn’t have the same mass appeal. Once we took pairing into account, I had to admit that it didn’t make the Top 2, despite the quality.
Smorey Time is obviously s’mores flavored, and has the distinction of being one of the few coffees in my life I’ve ever actually enjoyed even before sugar was added. Definitely different than a normal coffee flavor, sweet without being too sweet, a damn fine cup of mud. When I added the usual sugars, yowza, it got even better. I thought it was heading for the top at that point. Then we hit the snag of the pairing.
Suggested Pairing: Smorey Time has the most ambitious combination of flavors (that works) in the list. That made it really good on its own, but presented a problem for mixing purposes. Push too hard on one flavor; you fuck up the profile for the rest of it. After some trial and error with everyone’s mugs, the best combos we found were chocolate liquor or Pinnacle Marshmallow vodka. Those came out pretty damn good, by the way. Just not as good as either of the Top 2.
#2 Jacked O’Lantern
I know, I know, I’m going to take a lot of internet shit for this, but what do you want? Hate on pumpkin spice all you please, it doesn’t change the fact that these people make a damn fine coffee out of the flavor. And it is damn fine, make no mistake about that. Truth be told, I never jumped on the PSL train much in my life. That’s usually the time they’re offering eggnog themed shit too, which is way more up my alley. But this, this might have made me a believer.
It works black and with sugar, pretty tasty in both versions honestly. Taste-wise, I think we’re all familiar enough with pumpkin and spice that I don’t need to paint a picture, right? Let’s move on to the pairing, because holy shit is it a good one.
Suggested Pairing: Rumchata. I could leave it there, but on the off chance you aren’t familiar with this amazing liquor, it has a cinnamon based flavor paired with cream, and is basically tongue magic. It’s been one of my favorites for years, and this coffee might very well be the best thing I’ve ever had paired with it. It was amazing, and I’m craving another cup as I type this. Yet somehow, it was still in the second slot. So what beat it out then?
#1 Irish Cream
After I finished the sampler pack, I placed orders for another five samples (sequel-bait!) along with a bag of Jacked O’Lantern and a bag of Irish Cream. In the end, that was how I had to pick my Top 2: which ones did I go back for? Choosing between them was tough, and after the glowing recommendation of Jacked O’Lantern, you must be wondering what put this over the top?
Accuracy, in a word. This coffee truly does taste like Irish Cream, almost unnervingly so. Now that makes it tasty, as I think most of us all love a good glass of Bailey’s, but you know what else that makes it? Versatile.
Suggested Pairing: Literally anything you would mix with real Irish Cream. That was what put this one over the top. I loved Jacked O’Lantern and Rumchata, but it was a specific taste. This one, on the other hand, can become anything. Mix in some Rumple and a dash of chocolate liquor, you’ve got a Thin Mint Shot in coffee form. Go for whiskey, if that’s more your speed, and make an Irish Irish Cream. Hell, Rumchata mixes with this well too. It goes with so much, I had to put some in my rotation, and that versatility gave it my top spot.